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Iceland Culture and Mass Media


Calculated per inhabitant, Iceland publishes more books and has more bookcases than any other country in the world. Throughout history, literature has stood in a class of its own in Icelandic culture.

The classical literature was written down in the 12th and 13th centuries. It mainly reproduces older, oral traditions from pre-Christian times. The oldest works were written in Norway but could be preserved in Iceland because, unlike the other Nordic countries, the country was Christianized in relatively calm forms. Thus, it did not become so urgent for the church to suppress the memories of the pre-Christian era.

  • Countryaah: Latest population statistics of Iceland, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.

This early literature was created by unknown authors and is collected in the so-called Edda poetry. As immortal works, Hávlaim, who, among other things, gives advice on the Viking era's knowledge and etiquette, as well as Völuspá, which depicts the world's creation and the gods' struggle for the world's destruction, ragnarok.

An easily accessible genre is the poem of poetry or the drape which in the 9th century gave Egill Skallagrímsson and other skalders the opportunity to excel in an exquisite and distinctive imagery, so-called teachings. Within the prose, the personal and family stories from the 13th century form a special genre; most famous is Njal saga whose word button but dramatically expressive storytelling technique still inspires writers today.

Culture of IcelandEven after the entry of Christianity in the 1000s, the literary traditions of ancient times were alive and new works were created, for example the unique and poignant Sólarljóđ (Solsĺngen) by an unknown writer.

An important tradition is the writing of history, exemplified by Landnámabók which depicts the island's colonization. One historian and conservationist in particular was the great man Snorri Sturluson (in sworn form Snorre Sturlasson; 1179–1241), who among other things wrote the history of the Norwegian kings in Heimskringla.

In the 1300s, a new form of epic poems, rímur (singularis ríma), came under the influence of European ballad poetry. These have maintained their popularity in Iceland into modern times. In the 17th and 18th centuries manuscripts of the Icelandic sagas were brought to the colonial power of Denmark, but in the late 1900s these were brought back.

The 16th century reformation became a break for cultural life, which had largely been centered around the church. However, as an important religious poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson emerged in the 17th century. His collection of 50 Passion Psalms still characterizes the Church's Easter celebrations and is read on the radio each year during Lent.

During the 19th century, a national revival was born among Icelandic intellectuals in Copenhagen. Literary production gained new momentum, and the rise continued in the 20th century.

To begin with, many Icelanders wrote in Danish or Norwegian to reach a larger Nordic audience. In Icelandic, on the other hand, Halldór Laxness wrote novels such as Salka Valka and Iceland's Clock, and he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955. Among recent authors are Friđa Sigurđadóttir, Einar Már Guđmundsson, Gyrđir Elíasson and Sigurjón Birgir Sigurđsson (Sjón), all of whom received the Nordic Council Literature Prize.

Composer Jón Leifs became one of the Nordic region's foremost composers in the 20th century, known among other things for Hekla, a musical representation of a volcanic eruption. Icelandic films have also attracted attention with directors such as Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, Friđrik Ţór Friđriksson, Dagur Kári and Baltasar Kormákur.

Iceland has a world famous modern cultural personality in the singer, composer and actress Biörk (Guđmundsdóttir).



New catch quotas for selection

February 20th

Minister of Fisheries Kristján Þór Júlíusson from the Independence Party announces that Iceland will continue hunting for elections for the next five years. The catch quotas will be 209 for herring whales and 217 for folding whales. The government is divided on this issue. The Left-The Greens are critical to continued election hunting, but the Conservative Independence Party manages to push through its line with support from the Progress Party. Both parties believe that the hunt takes place in a sustainable way and in line with scientific recommendations, which is supported by a newly released research report from the University of Iceland and the Institute of Marine Research.


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